Following a call by Seismic Stan to bloggers, I’m guesting in the role of “Summerer Upperer” for Blog Banter 36. Either I was the quickest to step forward, or the slowest to step backwards. Without further ado, here goes:
The topic was an invitation for us bloggers to truly indulge ourselves and take a trip down memory lane:
“With the Inferno expansion upon us, new seeds have been planted in the ongoing evolution of EVE Online. With every expansion comes new trials and challenges, game-changing mechanics and fresh ideas. After nine years and seventeen expansions, EVE has grown far more than most other MMOGs can hope for. Which expansions have brought the highs and lows, which have been the best and the worst for EVE Online?”
Now for some of us, it would be a pretty short trip, but for others it would stretch all the way back to when Eve was in its infancy.
First to offer their thoughts were The Torchwood Archives, who noted that the 17 expansions of Eve were more than WoW and Star Trek online combined. They also quite rightly pointed out that the true measure of success of an expansion is actually how us players perceive it. The conclusion arrived at was that Eve was a success, and that Crucible is currently in gold medal position for expansions. A nice touch was the archive of splash screens – well worth visiting.
Structure Damage talked was very enthusiastic about their first expansion, which was Incursion. For them (and CCP if many others followed this example) it was a success as it introduced them to participating in larger fleets, and even lured a 2 month old character into lo-sec, where they promptly lost their Harbinger in PvP. Again, Incarna was a disappointment, but they ask the very valid question of why many clothing assets exist in a seemingly completed state on SiSi, but have not yet been released onto TQ.
Rixx Javix apparently joined the fray during the Empyrean Age in 2008. He seems to take a more philosophical approach and accepts that with each expansion, we are presented with more. More good and more bad, just simply in different proportions depending on the expansion. He raises the potential issue that the Eve universe could expand faster than its players, and that eventually Eve could be huge, and with huge you risk becoming bloated. Bloated is not good. Conclusion – Crucible and Inferno good – now undock!
Morphisat’s favourite expansion was Empyrean Age, and that is where his heart still lies – flying for the Minmatar Fleet. Interestingly none of the expansions after Apocrypha seem to have had much of an impact on him, being described as “a bunch of lacklustre expansions that were lacking in real content”.
Once again Apocrypha is the winning expansion for Hot Lead Space Bomb, and reading it reminded me that Eve could be purchased in a box in a real shop. Eve is real – it’s actually true! The post ends with a rather chilling prediction however that unless CCP can find another Apocrypha, in their opinion Eve could be dead in the water.
Sand, Cider and Spaceships adds another vote to Crucible being the best expansion so far (at least from when they started in 2008). I also learnt that the skill queue was something that got added in March 2009 with Apocrypha. I agree, I’m not sure I would be able to understand how you could play Eve without the skill queue – can anybody help me here please? And after checking, the X’s in his post aren’t my browser filtering bad language, it’s simply him refusing to name what seems to be quickly running away with the prize for the worst expansion ever.
The top three expansions of Eve are Trinity, Apocrypha and Crucible, as proclaimed by Confessions of a Closet Carebear. Interestingly again, most of the other expansions have failed to make an impact on this blogger, with only Incarna being named as a bad expansion.
Corelin of Fancy Hat’s quickly identifies Crucible and Apocrypha as his two favourite expansions (anybody spotting a trend building here?). Once again I’m confused by this mentioning of waking up at 3am to change a skill. Seriously? I thought CTA’s were the only thing that happened at 3am in Eve? Corelin takes one step further however, and renames Crucible as “the expansion that saved Eve”.
Anabaric delves into the back story of Eve in a refreshingly different approach to the expansions. I have to agree that the whole NPC/PvE side is far too formulaic, and would love to see things move forward and develop more dynamically as suggested in his post.
Apocrypha gets another vote for best expansion from Emergent Patroller, who also highlights the sad fact that the Incarna expansion is now mostly redundant. Interestingly, in a game that thrives because of its community, they note that Incursion brought them into contact with lots of new people they would otherwise not have met, which can only be a good thing for player retention.
Apocrypha appears to be heading for another vote for the best expansion from Flying Silent, and is suddenly usurped by Incarna. No, that’s not a typo. Within the post is a very strong, and credible, argument as to why Incarna is actually the expansion that saved Eve.
Rollins’ Ride in Eve looks through the most recent 7 expansions, highlighting what is now the obvious winner of the Expansion Razzies. They also look forward at what future expansions in Eve should be, and suggest that CCP should try and unholy union of Apocrypha and Crucible to achieve the right sort of mix.
Progression’s Horizon reminds us that not all things Incarna were bad, as we did get the rather cool turrets, which were surely the pre-cursor of the incredibly sexy new missile spam that can currently be observed throughout all of New Eden. Apocrypha receives yet another Oscar nomination.
In one of the best organised banter responses, Poetic Discourse provides a film guide style review of all of the expansions and their associated YouTube trailers up to Incursion. In a first so far, Revelations II receives its first nod as a contender for the top prize, although ironically mostly for the trailer and not the content.
Former Corp mate, and current worm-hole dweller A Carbon Based Life looks back at the last four expansions, with all receiving 10/10 except poor Incarna. Inferno wins top award for the aforementioned beautifulness that is the new missile effects.
Extra Vehicular goes in a slightly different direction and looks for groundbreaking new content / features. With the encouragingly optimistic view that their favourite expansion will be the next one, Incarna receives yet another award for worst expansion ever. You start to wonder if CCP did this on purpose to make everything else before and afterwards look good?
Blastrad Tales gets Leo and Kate to reprise their roles and goes all Titanic on us asking how CCP could have missed what was before them. As with the Titanic, the answer is that if you steer in a particular direction, don’t be surprised if you find yourself at (or well on the way to) that destination. Crucible gets another nod as the best, but Incarna is acknowledged as being a turning point for the game.
Over at Uglebsjournal Apocrypha once again tops the list, and Incarna languishes at the bottom, limbs flailing around helplessly. The point is raised that for a while CCP seemed to believe that polishing meant making the graphics look more pretty – fortunately for us all as this blogger points out, CCP have realised that this means improving and/or fixing current content as well as making things look pretty.
What did I say? Well, I actually failed to say what was the best expansion. Oops. I spent my time talking about the balance between new content and iteration. I’ll quickly correct my failing and say that my favourite (not the best – I will admit this freely) expansion was Tyrannis as Planetary Interaction was released, and because of this I got more involved in Eve and became a Corp Director for the first time and cemented my gamestyle to that of an industrialist. The worst by the fact it was the biggest missed opportunity, clearly is Incarna.
2nd Anomaly from the left sees Apocrypha and Crucible tie for joint first with both scoring 10/10, and guess which expansion receives a miserable 1/10. The contrast between Apocrypha and Crucible is stark – Apocrypha changed the nature of the game through its new content, whereas perhaps with Crucible CCP was almost engaging in the metagame, as the blogger feels that it changed the nature of the game by bringing CCP back to its roots.
With probably the seemingly most unrelated blog name of all, Chocolate Heaven highlights just a handful of expansions, with Apocrypha and Empyrean Age standing out as the best, and new entrant Exodus joining Incarna at the bottom of the pile. The failings of CCP to properly think through new sources of ISK caused Exodus to be listed – now why does this sound familiar to me?
Following Chocolate Heaven comes Crossing Zebras as our next blog with an apparently non-Eve linked name. Seriously – two very cool blog names and makes me think I should have undertaken some more thinking before naming my own blog. Crucible is the focus of the entire post here, easily identified as the best expansion, and credited as Eve’s “reboot”. I think few people would disagree, quite likely expanding it or reframing it as CCP’s reboot.
Eve Stratics looks at the community aspect as a portal, although before that he quickly adds another +1 to Apocrypha. Looking purely at a community aspect, the winners here are Castor, Exodus and Crucible. Referring to Incarna as “the biggest mishap in Eve history”, it once again acknowledges the corrective action that resulted from that “mishap”.
Kirith Kodachi at Inner Sanctum of the Ninveah takes the short and sweet approach of +1′ing Apocrypha and -1′ing Incarna. In fact, if I don’t include the Blog Banter pre-amble, this summing up paragraph of his banter is actually longer than his actual post!
Over at Eve All Night, the blogger approaches the question in a very interesting way, pretty much deconstructing the thought process behind the question. I really liked the (sort of) answer “Which one is best? The previous expansion. It kept me playing.” and ”Which one is worst? The latest one. It made me quit.”. He also very rightly points out that we, as players, get much more access to the makers of the sandbox than many MMO’s, and that we should ensure we use that ability.
Participating in their first ever Blog Banter, Small Ships FTW adopts a very different approach and lists their favourite features spanning back to 2006, and notes the expansion that they came from. I really liked this approach, as in some ways it “depersonalised” the expansions – no expansion will tick the same boxes for every player, and the feature that one person likes, another might detest. Based on the feature list, their favourite expansion was Dominion.
Looking back over the last ten expansions, Married Minmatar Life disagreed with the Small Ships and classed Dominion as bad, with the Titan DD nerf and in-game browser saving it from ugly. Good was a vote for Crucible, and poor old Incarna yet again was found by scraping the barrel’s bottom.
Shelter for an Empyrean looks more at the effect the expansions had on the game – before, during and after release. Apocrypha pretty much cements its position as the best expansion, and also adds the perspective of a player who did unsub at Incarna, and then resubbed at Crucible. The interesting note is that despite how much there is to do in Eve, and how many things most of us players have never tried (my character has never said “Yarr” for example), we all (well lots of us anyway) look to the patch notes to see what new content there might be for us and our individual game style.
And as if by divine providence, we round up this mammoth summary with the aptly named Rants from New Eden blog. Highlighting that CCP do try (although they might miserably fail on occasions) to garner feedback from us ungrateful players, and that through this CCP can and do develop an amazing experience. One very interesting observation (and one I’ve seen first hand in Corp chat and heard in discussions on TeamSpeak), is that if something is truly bad and unlikely to be able to be fixed, Eve players quickly write it off. However, if it’s imperfect / flawed / broken, we tend to try and make it work, or find a way around it, and resulting from this sometimes can be truly emergent gameplay, which can lead to emergent development of Eve.
So there you have it. Blog Banter 36 summarised in not exactly a short way. The end result is that Apocrypha was voted clear winner by the participants, with Incarna the rather obvious ugly sister in the beauty parade.
Thanks to all the participants, I found reading them all in one go fascinating, and I very much recommend it as a way to “do” the blog banter experience. Also, I’d encourage you all to comment on individual blogs where you agree or disagree. Finally, thanks to Freebooted for letting me provide a guest summary. If you never see me doing this again, you’ll know that he hated it!